Is anyone else shaking their head at the latest craptacular proposal by Dear Leader with respect to putting "limited amounts" of National Guard troops along the US/Mexican border for a "limited time"?
Besides the fact that this has already concerned Mexican President Vicente Fox enough that he has reached out directly on this, or that the same people who are responsible for the whole CIA leak to begin with are telling us that this is not a plan to "militarize the Mexican border", it is just a laughable idea.
Thanks to the good folks at thinkprogress.org as well as prominent Congresspeople, even including (gasp, a Republican) Chuck Hagel, this isn't even something that the National Guard can handle right now.
How about starting with simple math.....5,000 troops along the 2,000 mile border. A border that is already porous enough, and has many underground tunnels that we have already found, not to mention those that we have no idea about. That works out to 2.5 people per mile. That should really work well.
Now let's also think about the fact that hurricane season is just about upon us and how much our National Guard was needed when 80,000 of them were already serving in Iraq. Or the fact that last year at this time, half of their equipment was in Iraq. Since we know how well Chimpy and the Gang can deal with, well, anything, how are they going to deal with the numbers here? Or resources that are already needed elsewhere in this country? While we are on the topic of hurricane season, it is also reported that the Guard is underequipped to handle any emergencies. And how bad is it, exactly? Well, just see for yourself:
State-based units are short on critical equipment because guardsmen about to return from overseas assignments such as in Iraq and Afghanistan are handing off their rifles, radios and vehicles to incoming units. State officials say shortages at home of Guard equipment, such as Humvees, mean they must rely on backup assistance from neighboring states once hurricane season begins June 1.
In Louisiana, about 100 of the Guard's high-water vehicles remain abroad -- even as the state continues to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina. Coastal North Carolina is missing nearly half its Humvee fleet, and Guard officials there said shortages have forced the state to pool equipment from different units into one pot of hurricane supplies. Vehicles are particularly crucial to hurricane response because they are often the only way to ferry ice and water through devastated areas.
In May 2005, Guard units here had only about 8 percent of the tractor trailers they were allotted and none of the Humvees with added armor, according to the GAO report.
But let's fast forward to now. Even Chuck Hagel (one of the only, if not THE only Republican in Congress who served in Vietnam), who I have been in agreement with more than all of the other Republicans combined, had this to say:
"We've got National Guard members on their second, third and fourth tours in Iraq," Hagel said. "We have stretched our military as thin as we have ever seen it in modern times. And what in the world are we talking about here, sending a National Guard that we may not have any capacity to send up to or down to protect borders? That's not their role."
OK - so they are a bit tired. We know that Rummy can stand for 8-10 hours a day so what is the big deal if our already overextended National Guard does more?
But even if that isn't the biggest issue, what about the following pieces of information that can't (but will) be ignored about the enormous stress and strain that our National Guard is already under:
Recruiting is way down. In 2005, the National Guard missed its recruiting goal, and 20% of the total troops in Iraq are Army reservists and National Guardsmen(around 55,000). Even though this number is down from 40%, since Iraq combat is not what the National Guard is really supposed to be doing, the troops that have returned (and not been redeployed) have got to be fatigued, stressed and likely could be suffering from some form of PTSD, since an estimated 10% of the veterans returning from Iraq may be suffering from some form of PTSD, not to mention those troops that are thrust into a combat situation that they were not trained for to begin with.
Already, over 350 National Guard soldiers have died in Iraq, not to mention the fact that last year, Lt. Gen. James Helmly said that the the US Army reservists are "degenerating into a broken force". Not only that, but Helmley warned that it was becoming increasingly difficult to be able to meet the operational requirements here in the United States.
Even as recent as last July, the National Guard Bureau indicated that there were serious issues with the proper amount of equipment being available for undeployed units:
Nondeployed Guard units now have only about one-third of the equipment they need for their overseas missions, which hampers their ability to prepare for future missions and conduct domestic operations. Without a plan and funding strategy that addresses the Guard's equipment needs for all its missions, DOD and Congress do not have assurance that the Army has an affordable plan to improve the Guard's equipment readiness.
One third of the equipment needed. And only 34% of its "essential warfighting equipment". Maybe the Navy's idea of sharks with electronic sensors can make up for the shortfall. Or maybe they can just call Dr. Evil in to use his sharks with laser beams.
How about the fact that the National Guard is so underequipped that they have less than 5% of over 220 critical items?
Further, as of July 2005, the Army National Guard reported that it had less than 5 percent of the required amount or a quantity of fewer than 5 each of more than 220 critical items. Among these 220 high-demand items were generators, trucks, and radios, which could also be useful for domestic missions.
So what does Chimpy do about this? Well, first the state governors have to ask for help, which they did:
In February, all 50 governors called on President Bush to re-equip the National Guard. Under the U.S. Constitution, each state's National Guard unit is controlled by the governor in time of peace but can be called up for federal duty by the president. There are two branches of the National Guard: Air and Army.
"Attention must be paid to re-equipping National Guard units with the resources they need to carry out their homeland security and domestic disaster duties, while also continuing to fine-tune their wartime mission competencies," said the letter signed by all the nation's governors and the governors of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
And what was done so far? Zip. Zilch. Nada.
So besides the fact that the "let's put a shiny happy story on it and everything will go away" tactic which worked on most of `Murka for 5+ years is not going to work anymore. There is really no way, logistically, that this could work. Hell, half of the Repukes are against this. And in a month or 2 when hurricane season starts up, then what? It just is a completely knee-jerk ass backwards way to handle an issue as sensitive as illegal immigration.
Here's a couple of questions that I will leave you with - what happens if the Minutemen along the border mix it up with the Mexican gangs that are looking to counteract the Minutemen? What role do our National Guard soldiers play then? What happens when Mexicans are shot and killed trying to cross the border? How many from the National Guard will need to be redeployed to deal with the inevitable riots that will erupt, especially if it is one of the National Guard soldiers that kill the Mexicans trying to cross the border, even if they are trying to cross illegally.
Another fine mess to deal with. A heckuva job you are doing, Chimpy.